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Making Movies


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About the Author

Sidney Lumet's films have received more than fifty Academy Award nominations. He has been nominated by the Directors Guild of America for Best Director seven times. In addition, he has received an honorary lifetime membership in the Directors Guild of America as well as its most prestigious award, the D. W. Griffith Award. In 1993, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Arts Club. His films have been shown in retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the American Museum of the Moving Image, the British Academy in London, and the Cinematheque in Paris. He has also been honored by the French government as a Commander of Arts and Letters. He died in 2011.


Lumet's book is about the agonizing and ultimately rewarding art of filmmaking. And who better to elucidate the process than a legendary director, with credits such as 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon, and Prince of the City? Lumet discusses writers and actors, camera and editing techniques, art direction and sound. Yet Making Movies is anything but a clinical textbook. Lumet's career straddled the shift between studio management and the rise of financiers and talent agencies: he's seen both worlds and candidly reveals his predilections, including his disdain for teamsters, critics, and market researchers. He alludes to the tension between film as art and as business and shows that filmmaking is ultimately a capricious, collective enterprise with no sure formulas. Although overly mechanistic at times, Lumet is most lucid in examples drawn from his own experiences. A fascinating look at the artist at work; recommended for film studies collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/94.]‘Jayne Plymale-Jackson, Univ. of Georgia Libs., Athens

Award-winning director Lumet (Dog Day Afternoon; The Verdict) serves as an unpretentious, anecdotal and sometimes irascible gide to the knotty process of getting a story on the screen. Brushing aside the auteur theory, he insists that filmmaking is a collaborative art involving technicians, actors and writers. Drawing upon almost 40 years' experience, the author lucidly explains the technical and aesthetic considerations in set design, cinematography and editing. As Lumet's movies are ample testimony to his love of language and actors, he unsurprisingly singles out such hyperbolic talents as screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky and actors Al Pacino and Katharine Hepburn, from whom he coaxed one of her bravest performances‘as the crumbling matriarch in O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night. But Lumet is not star-struck: ``If my movie has two stars in it, I always know it really has three. The third star is the camera.'' Remarkably informative and engrossing, even if film is not your bag. It's all here: lights, camera, action. (Mar.)

"Film would be a better place if every director were required to share with other romancers of film his process. It is a gift to us all that it is Sidney Lumet, one of American's greatest filmmakers, who is sharing his point-of-view." -Stephen Spielberg

"Invaluable. . . . I am sometimes asked if there is one book a filmgoer could read to learn more about how movies are made and what to look for while watching them. This is the book." -Roger Ebert, The New York Times Book Review

"Remarkable . . . . as dignified as the movies [Lumet] has made and yet deeply felt and very moving. . . . Anyone who truly loves movies ought to read what he has to say about them. . . . Delightfully engrossing." -Los Angeles Times

"The film bible from a master. It tells in meticulous detail the step-by-step process of making a movie. You feel you're on the set. A must." -Quincy Jones

"Full of energy, enthusiasm and wisdom. . . . It's all engrossing because [Lumet] speaks so fervently and opinionatedly about matters on which he has earned the right to opinions." -The New Republic

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